The Imperium of Sidhae (Sidh: Imperium Sidhicum) is an interstellar superpower present in the Alternative Canon. It is an autocratic, stratocratic, semi-federal monarchy that controls at least 20,000 planetary systems in the Milky Way galaxy and is ruled by a nameless Empress from the capital world of New Aedun.
The enigmatic man known today simply as the Emperor was born sometime in late 20th century. A veteran of Venezuela Oil war and an Indo-Pakistan War, "left to die and rot outside Karachi" by his NATO superiors according to his own words, he would grow bitterly disillusioned with the Western establishment and vow to change it.
His opportunity came with the collapse of the European Union, the dissolution of NATO, and a civil war in Russia sometime in late 2010's. Using his charisma and a promise for a better future, he managed to rally considerable support on both sides, establishing a Eurasian Confederacy in early 2020's. Being on the brink of a civil war of their own, the United States were unable to counter the most dreaded geopolitical scenario of theirs - a union of European technological prowess with Russian natural resources. Furthermore, the future Emperor managed to ally with the aspiring superpowers of India and China, forming the Eurasian Bloc against the remnants of NATO.
The decisive clash between the two factions was fought in early 2030's in a brutal World War III, the United States succumbing to a combined assault on several fronts while being ravaged by civil strife from within. However, the growing power of the Eurasian Confederacy and it's mostly-Western focus did not rest well with it's allies, eventually leading to the dissolution of the Eurasian Bloc, and a World War IV.
Little did the allies of the Confederacy suspect that the secret behind the Confederacy's rise was a first contact with an alien species, namely the Skargh, in 2025. Being located more than a year's travel from the nearest Skargh world, Earth was initially mistaken by the Skargh explorer-merchants to be merely a part of a much larger spacefaring empire, thus staving off an invasion and leading to more peaceful interactions of trade. The Confederacy found itself in luck when a Skargh ship crashed on the Moon in 2027. Salvaging and reverse-engineering the many technologies contained within, the Confederates were able to bring into production a number of revolutionary military technologies including the first practical man-portable energy weapons, powered armor and energy-shielded aircraft that contributed greatly to their WWIII victory. Among other technologies salvaged was the ship's star drive that would serve as the basis for Humanity's own interstellar travel technology.
As the Emperor realized the extent of the threat that the Skargh posed in long term, he vowed to save Mankind from impending destruction or enslavement at any cost - even if that cost was the destruction of half of Mankind to save the other half. He made his goal to ensure that Mankind would spread among the stars and learn to survive in any environment, even the unsurvivable. Consequently, massive investments were made into research of technologies like genetic enhancement, cyber-augmentation, artificial procreation, neural interfaces and space travel. Even among his followers, however, few followed his vision, even fewer realizing his reasons for doing so. Consequently, the majority of Mankind would come to regard the Emperor as a brutal tyrant, a heavy cost paid gladly for the survival of Humanity.
Perhaps the hardest decision made by the future Emperor (then known simply as the Leader) was the initiation of World War IV. Realizing that his Confederacy could not stand up to the vast combined manpower reserves of India and China, the Emperor made the heavy decision to unleash the very worst of bioweapons that his scientists could come up with, the Harvester Plague. Various strains genetically engineered to target specific ethnic groups, the Harvester proved a resounding success, wiping out over two billion people as the Confederate armies swept over the weakened defenses. The war did not come at a light cost to the Confederacy, however - the nuclear exchanges and other effects of the war devastated Earth's ecosystems, bringing them close to collapse. Surviving reports indicate ice forming in the Adriatic in summer, the Gulf Stream stopping entirely, and massive harvest failures and famines in Middle East and North Africa. In any case, by 2039 the remaining nations of Earth were faced with either submitting to the Emperor's rule, or facing destruction
The few remaining independent nations of the world chose to acknowledge the Confederate supremacy in 2040, thus forming the first human world-state in history, promptly named the Terran Confederacy.
The Terran Confederacy, however, proved to be short-lived. Rather than repairing the extensive damage done to the world by the two world wars, the Emperor instead invested the majority of Confederate budget in building up an interstellar colonization fleet - his goal was to get Mankind expanding beyond the dangerous confines of their homeworld as soon as possible. Few, however, appreciated this goal, forcing the Emperor to resort to increasingly heavy-handed measures to maintain order and unity.
The breaking point came in 2044, shortly after the Emperor's announcement of the completion of the first ever interstellar colonization fleet. Disaffected with the repressive rule of Confederate authorities and the failure to address mounting environmental issues, a sizable portion of the Confederacy including numerous Confederate military units rebelled. Faced with a massive popular revolt, the Emperor and his loyalists were forced aboard their own colonization fleet to use it as a means of exodus. The victorious rebels would then re-establish a short-lived system of pre-Confederate nations that would soon be overcome by differences between former Confederate military and scientific establishments and eventually annihilated in the nuclear fires of the Final War.
It was around this time that the future Empress was born, the Emperor's firstborn and only daughter. From her own childhood recollections, she still remembers walking upon the soil of old Terra, marking her as one of the oldest Sidhae alive.
Exiled from their homeworld, the Emperor and his few million loyalists, among whom were some of Humanity's brightest minds, were forced to seek out a new homeworld.
The early years of the exodus were especially difficult for a people unaccustomed to life in space. Notions like privacy became unimportant in the cramped quarters of starships, as did private property, pretty much everything being subject to rationing and recycling. These years shaped the future Sidh culture decisively.
Sidh language developed during this era as well. The majority of early Sidhae were soldiers and scientists predominantly from the Western world, Latin being one of the few mutually intelligible languages besides English, the latter being rejected for political implications. Hence the future Sidh language was based heavily on Latin, although the end result would no longer be intelligible to Latin-speakers.
After spending 20 years in search of a new homeworld in vain, the Emperor's fleet was demoralized, demanding a return to Terra for whatever awaited them back home. Legend has it that the Emperor asked for three more days, spending them all in his flagship's observatory in search of potentially habitable worlds. Just minutes before the expiration of the agreed term, he would stumble upon the signature of a suitable world - Aedun.
After settling on Aedun, the ancestors of Sidhae would rapidly rebuild the heavy industry necessary to support further colonization efforts. The technologies developed in unethical and often downright cruel experiments back on Terra now came useful. It was at this time that the early Sidhae perfected the progenitory technology of rapidly growing and socializing sapient adult humans and embraced genetic engineering and cyber-augmentation as inherent aspects of their civilization, finding the technologies much more efficient at rapidly populating virgin worlds than natural birth ever could.
After colonizing over a dozen of future core worlds, the early Sidhae would announce the formation of the Imperium in 2071, declaring the Emperor their ruler-for-life.
The Imperium's rise went unnoticed for some decades until the eventual establishment of contact with the Terran successor states, the descendants of those who managed to escape the ravages of the Final War.
Following the Emperor's exodus, Terra had once again divided itself along lines of old ethnic nation-states, only to find them lacking in a new age of technological understanding. The former Confederate military and the scientific establishment turned out to be more powerful than any ethnic ties, eventually devolving into two rival factions, known to contemporary historians simply as the Blues and the Greens respectively. Tensions would grow, skirmishes would break out, and the brewing conflict would eventually culminate in a full-scale nuclear exchange in 2065, but not before many of those wanting no part in this conflict managed to escape in interstellar ships made according to the specifications of the Emperor's original exodus fleet. The scant survivors on Terra would regress back into barbarity afterwards, while the survivors in space would move on to settle a number of worlds that would eventually form the core of the Federation of Mankind.
Predictably, the Federation settlers were none too happy to learn that their former oppressor was alive and well, leading a bustling empire. However, the relationship between the Imperium and the Federation remained civil if cool for now, mainly in recognition of the Skargh threat.
The Skargh would make their attempt on Humanity in 2093, when they realized their mistake of assuming Terra to be a part of a larger spacefaring empire, only to find it devoid of civilization afterwards. Infuriated, they would attempt to wipe out Humanity in a series of wars known as the Skargh Wars.
In the coming years, the Skargh - who had never encountered a spacefaring species before in battle - would learn of Mankind's toughness the hard way. It was here that the Emperor earned his reputation as the best military leader in human history, for the battles he led were not about supremacy of one human faction against another, but about the supremacy of Mankind as a whole. Despite their old grudges, the Federation recognized his leadership for the time being, and would not come to regret that decision. The Skargh were humiliated on the battlefield on so many occasions and so severely that they would come to regard the Emperor as the avatar of Dregruk, their war god, viewing him with superstitious fear that lasts to the present day.
The Imperium continued to expand despite the constant wars with the Skargh, resettling it's capital on New Aedun in 2104 and setting their original Aedun settlement aside as a holy necropolis for those fallen in service of the Imperium.
The Old Imperium
The historical marker for the age of Old Imperium is the brief War of Terra in 2124, when the Imperium of Sidhae, the Federation of Mankind and the Skargh Empire clashed over the possession of the Cradle of Mankind. The war was brought to an abrupt end by Verloc d'Averan, a Terran tribesman who had just overthrown the theocratic regime known as the Conclave ruling over Terra. D'Averan proposed the terms for a Treaty of Terra that recognized the sovereignty of Terra and delineated the spheres of influence between the galaxy's superpowers, heralding a new age without war now known as the Age of Peace.
The Age of Peace was one of unprecedented peace, prosperity and peaceful expansion, hundreds of new worlds being settled every year. Trade and culture flourished in their respective societies, and it seemed that a new age had dawned for all the races of known space.
This peace was not to last, however. The Emperor was growing weary of rulership and had on occasion mentioned the possibility of retiring. Sensing opportunity, the Clans of the Imperium, modelled after the Skargh methodology of ruling over an interstellar empire, would begin to bicker and even battle over the to-be vacant throne.
Disgusted by the Clans fighting over the throne that wasn't even theirs to claim yet, the Emperor made the controversial decision to propose his own candidate for rulership - his daughter. While technically not illegal, the decision outraged the powerful Clans.
The reason for this outrage was based in a paragraph of the Imperial Statutes which stated that a new Emperor shall be elected from among candidates proposed by the Clans. Another paragraph defined Clan as a fraternity of military veterans in control of sufficient territory to raise and support at least one full legion of troops and one full armada of warships (~1.5 million troops and 400 capital ships, respectively). Since the Emperor controlled a sizable personal domain consisting of populous core worlds and personally commanded the Imperial Guard, which was 13 legions and 13 armadas strong, this technically made his claim for clanship legitimate. Detractors, however, argued that the Emperor had never applied to have the Imperial Guard formally recognized as a Clan, hence making his proposed candidature void.
This succession dispute eventually led to the Emperor's assassination on September 1, 2232, at the hands of renegade Clan members secretly supported by the Federation of Mankind. It is said that the Emperor resisted his assailants fiercely, personally slaying numerous attackers before succumbing, his usual elite bodyguards being distracted. The assassins conveniently exploited a moment when the Emperor's daughter was touring distant Imperial worlds to rally support for her in the succession dispute, hoping to seize power in her absence.
The plot almost succeeded, had it not been for the efforts of the 1st Guard Legion, the Emperor's personal bodyguard unit, which valiantly defended New Aedun through a several months-long siege. Since the 1st Guard were the ones to stand watch when the Emperor was assassinated, the entire legion expressed regret by replacing their heraldic emblem with a simple black shield and taking a vow of silence as penance for their failure.
In the meanwhile, the Empress narrowly survived an assassination attempt by the Traitor forces while touring the outer worlds aboard an inconspicuous Imperial Navy frigate Luminon. The following desperate five-month run from pursuing Traitor forces entered Sidh mythology as the Flight of the Luminon. The Empress did finally manage to arrive at New Aedun, announcing publicly her claim to the Aquila Throne.
The Age of War
The following decade was spent in a bitter civil war, the four major Traitor Clans battling a coalition of the Imperial Guard and the lesser Loyalist Clans.
Sensing opportunity, the Federation of Mankind initially offered support to the Traitor Clans, under the mistaken assumption that these Clans sought to implement human-style democracy in the Imperium. However, as it became clear that the Traitors merely sought to elect a new Emperor according to their interpretation of the Statutes, the Federation abandoned them and sought new allies of convenience in the Skargh instead. Deeply embittered by their humiliating defeat in the Skargh Wars, the Skargh were eager to exact revenge, especially now that their vanquisher the Emperor was dead.
The resulting unholy alliance proceeded to dismantle the war-torn Imperium, the Traitors realizing too late that this new coalition was there for its own self-interests. Despite this external threat, the civil war continued, the Traitor Clans having convinced their followers that it was in fact the Empress who had ordered her father's assassination to seize power against Imperial law.
The situation was unexpectedly resolved in 2243, when a certain Lady Murasaki of Clan Ishamna accidentally discovered evidence of a cover-up by Traitor Clan leadership, effectively proving that the Emperor was in fact assassinated on their orders. Angered by this discovery, Lady Murasaki disclosed this information to the broader Imperium. Although she was martyred for her daring, the damage was done - enraged by the irrefutable proof of their leaders' treachery, virtually the entire Traitor army defected to the Loyalists literally overnight in an effort to redeem their tarnished honour. The Sidh Civil War was resolved a mere month later in the decisive Battle of Kentares, the overwhelming majority of the reunited Imperial Army and Navy facing off against die-hard Traitor forces, most of whom were guilty of war crimes and could therefore expect no forgiveness. The Traitor leaders committed suicide near the end of the battle, leaving the Empress as the new and undisputed ruler of the Imperium.
With her empire reunited, the Empress was now faced with the daunting task of stopping the juggernaut of the human-Skargh coalition that was rampaging across the Imperium. Many colossal battles were fought in this time, fleets of city-sized dreadnoughts dashing against each other and meeting glorious ends over untold worlds, armies billions strong battling it out over thousands of worlds. Despite best Sidh efforts, the offensive proved too much to stop by conventional means, leading the Empress to approve of a drastic but effective measure - the Omega Protocol. The said procedure would entail the sacrifice of significant friendly forces, destroying an entire world with a sizable friendly contingent just as it was about to be overrun by enemies, denying them the resources of the said world and costing them huge forces at no gain.
The said ultimate attrition strategy proved effective. After 28 obliterated worlds, the human-Skargh offensive indeed slowed down enough to allow the desperate Sidh forces to regroup. It was at this time that the Empress ordered a Second Pilgrimage, the complete evacuation of the remaining Imperial worlds into uncharted space while the Army and the Navy bought the civilians time to escape. In the end, the coalition was met in a legendary last stand on the world of Hades Gates in 2245.
The battle itself dragged on for three weeks, the Empress herself being said to have led the decisive mechwalker charge that finally broke the enemy offensive. Whatever the truth, Hades Gates indeed proved decisive, stopping any further offensive by the human-Skargh coalition in it's tracks. Soon thereafter, the allies of convenience began to bicker and blame each other of incompetence that lead to defeat, their relations quickly souring from alliance to outright war over the scraps of the old Imperium. This state of war between Humanity and the Skargh Empire would persist for the next few centuries until an exhausted stalemate in late 2400's, allowing the Imperium precious time to evacuate and rebuild.
Having withdrawn from the general affairs of the Galaxy, the Sidhae were sighted in their former space increasingly rarely, eventually becoming a mere myth and being assumed extinct or having moved on for good by both the Skargh and the Federation.
The New Imperium
After resettling on a number of virgin worlds, the refounded Imperium commenced to rebuild itself from ground up. Hardened by the horrors of the Age of War, when planet-scale genocides were carried out against Sidhae, the Empress vowed never to let that repeat, and reformed her new empire accordingly.
Her first and foremost step was the Statute Reforms, to curb the power of the Clans and ensure they could never make the bid for power that they did again. Clans were stripped of essentially all real military and economic power, being reduced to mere administrative entities - without much objection, for that matter, the Imperial Guard being essentially the only effective fighting force of the Imperium remaining at the end of the active phase of the Age of War. Power was now heavily centralized within technological possibility.
The next step in reform was the formal renunciation of humanity. Where the pre-Age of War Sidhae generally saw themselves as stewards and protectors of Mankind, the embittered Age of War generations had developed a bitter hatred for humans and anyone else than themselves. Several generations had grown up during the Age of War and it's immediate aftermath, being poorly socialized and bred solely for combat. Now these generations assumed power, dictating the radical anti-human stance to everyone else. It was at this point of time that the Sidhae decided to declare themselves entirely separate from the rest of Humanity and announce their sworn enmity with the unaugmented organics.
Lastly, the Empress reformed the entire Imperial economy, redesigning it from ground up to support a colossal military-industrial complex with the sole purpose to reclaim the Old Imperium and exact terrible revenge upon the enemies of the Emperor. Where before the Imperium had been a state with an army, it now became an army with a state, virtually everyone being somehow involved with the military-industrial complex.
Notions of tolerance and coexistence were likewise abandoned in favour of simple survival. Sidh culture became much more simplistic, militarized and bigoted.
The following two centuries passed in endless expansion, brief wars of extermination with lesser xenos species and building up for the terrible vengeance that the Imperium sought upon its old enemies.
The Reconquest Wars
The Sidhae returned with a vengeance in 2549. At this time, the Federation of Mankind was weakened by the Corporate Wars, while the Skargh Empire suffered from internal struggles for power. Neither side expected a re-emergence of their Sidh enemies, and were consequently taken by complete surprise.
In September 1, 2549, the anniversary of the Emperor's death, the Imperial armed forces invaded Federation and Skargh space across the entire borderline of the Old Imperium. Within a month, over 50 worlds had fallen, and several hundred more were under siege. Taken by complete surprise and worn out by centuries of earlier fighting, the rival powers failed to respond with full force. It would take two decades before any of the said powers could recover and muster a proper response, by which time the Imperium had reclaimed much of their former territories.
The Reconquest Wars were characterized by the extreme brutality exercised by the Sidh forces, human and Skargh populations of their former worlds habitually being subject to complete extermination, or at best to seclusion in overcrowded and unsanitary ghettos. It was only in late 2560's that any of the defending sides were able to muster significant resistence, and even then, the Sidh juggernaut seemed almost unstoppable.
It was only by 2580's that the Sidh supply lines were finally stretched to their limit, allowing the Federation and the Skargh Empire to launch effective counter-attacks, stabilizing and pushing back the frontline that had advanced well into their native space. Recognizing that the Imperium no longer had the strength to sustain an offensive, the Imperial strategists called for a cessation of offensive action. This coincided with the savage Purge of Pnakotas in 2583, when a pro-Federation rebellion on the conquered world of Pnakotas was brutally crushed, consigning 250 million human inhabitants to extermination and indirectly fuelling renewed human war effort. Shortly thereafter, an informal agreement about containment of hostilities was reached, although no formal cease-fire was ever signed. Ever since then, military action along Sidh-Federation-Skargh borders has largely been limited to frequent skirmishes and minor incursions.
Government & Politics
The Imperial government is a hybrid system of monarchy and stratocracy/military democracy. This form of government evolved somewhat organically in the early days of the Imperium. The Emperor already commanded unquestioning loyalty of his subjects, many of whom came to regard him as a sort of prophet or demi-god destined to guide Mankind to it's triumphant future among the stars, so there was little question about the choice of leadership among Sidhae. The stratocracy/martial democracy aspect was in turn a natural development from most early Sidhae already being soldiers or otherwise involved with the military, the holding of military rank automatically equating to authority and political power. The democratic aspect was a slightly later introduction when the civilian population again began to outnumber the military among early Sidhae as a way of enabling their participation. On the insistence of the military, however, full citizenship with attendant political rights would only be conferred upon those civilians who completed a 3-year military service term, effectively making them part of the military too. This has since become cemented in Sidh tradition and law, earning one's suffrage in service of the state being considered one of the most fundamental aspects of being a Sidh.
While the sovereign of the state bears the title of Emperor/Empress, legally the leader of the Imperium is an elected dictator-for-life in all but name, complete abolition of hereditary privilege (along with a literal abolition of family by means of technology) being one of the cornerstones of Sidh political ideology. While this principle is somewhat contradicted by the current Empress being the original Emperor's daughter, most Sidhae choose to overlook this fact since a dispute over it already lead to a civil war and near-downfall of the Imperium once, arguing that the Empress attained the throne through personal merit without any aid of her father.
The monarch commands near-unlimited legislative, executive and judicial powers only being checked by the Statutes, the vague Sidh equivalent of a constitution, and long-standing traditions. The Emperor of Sidhae is traditionally regarded as the ultimate authority in all matters, but Sidh monarchs have rarely exercised their full authority in practice, preferring to delegate considerable power to their ministers and other subjects. This way potential scheming to seize the throne is somewhat defused by making the prize appear less lucrative. In the day-to-day affairs of the state, the ministers, archons and governors exercise considerable autonomy, the emperor largely serving as an impartial arbitrator of disputes and the highest authority of appeal, only occasionally intervening in government affairs by issuing an Imperial decree or edict.
Legislation-wise, every legal bill must be personally approved by the monarch or a representative appointed to act on his/her behalf. The monarch may return the bill for repeated review with suggested corrections (which are usually implemented to the letter), veto it, and override existing laws and pass new ones by decree. Only the Statutes may not be amended by the monarch without holding a general referendum.
The legislative body of the Imperial government is the General Assembly. Elected representatives of every Imperial world and major organization attend weekly sessions to discuss actual political matters and issue new laws. The monarch or his/her representative presides over these sessions, arbitrating any disputes and oftentimes approving, correcting or vetoing the suggested bills on the spot. 1/4 of the General Assembly seats are reserved for the military and security services closely involved with the military, every legion and armada having a ranking officer as their representative. Civil representatives represent mostly various Imperial planets, sub-sectors and sectors, as well as major civil organizations of considerable influence (such as industrial combines and labour unions). Planets without a full Imperial world status, i.e., colonies do not have the right of representation, instead being represented by their parent world or enterprise. The Freelancers also have 1% of the total seats reserved for them, usually held by the most respected commanders and community leaders.
The executive body of the government, the Cabinet, is composed of ministers selected from among the representatives by the monarch. Cabinet offices are typically held by the most experienced and competent officials in the given field, or by heads of certain organizations subject directly to the monarch. Examples of the latter include the Order of Judicators and the Imperial Guard.
The Imperium's judiciary branch is not independent, but subject to Chamber of Justice (also called Ministry of Justice in some sources). The monarch also holds supreme judiciary authority, being the highest instance of appeal, but in practice intervening in the judicial process very rarely. Certain high-ranking officials of the Imperium, such as strategoi of the armed forces, traditionally hold the privilege to be judged personally by the monarch.
Maintaining a centralized authority over a vast interstellar empire is no simple task for sheer technological difficulty of maintaining efficient communication. For this reason, the Imperium is divided into many sectors ruled over by Archons, viceroys who act in the Empress's name with considerable autonomy. The size of a sector can vary greatly, it's status being decreed rather arbitrarily as to best suit the circumstances. A sector hence can contain anywhere between 25 and 500 star systems. The number of sectors is subject to constant change as some are merged, others divided and new ones created. Each sector has a capitol world, which houses the sector's bureaucracy and is usually the residence of the Archon.
Sub-sectors, also called satrapies by some, are ruled over by Satraps. As with sectors, the number of sub-sectors within a sector can be very arbitrary and is dictated by circumstance and convenience rather than any specific regulation. Usually this number ranges between 5 and 20. Sometimes even a single star system with numerous populated worlds can be granted the status of a sub-sector.
Individual planets are ruled over by a planetary Governor, the sub-planetary bureaucracy in turn being divided into city-districts. These city-districts can be massive and rival the largest nation-states of Old Terra in size, but are most often just empty territories simply assigned under jurisdiction of the nearest city that houses the bulk of their population.
Colonies, recently-settled planets that haven't yet attained the status of an Imperial world, are usually governed by an administrator appointed by the governor of the colony's parent world, or by the head of the enterprise sponsoring the colonization effort.
There are also many worlds under military administration that stand outside civil jurisdiction. Military worlds are governed by military governors, usually ranking officers of the legion garrisoning the world. Military administration has the Imperium divided into themes, military districts which roughly correspond to the civil sectors and are presided over by archistrategoi. Most themata exist simply as theoretical theaters of operations to be considered in military planning, but are activated and become actual administrative entities during times of war, such as the Imperium's constantly-embattled border regions where civil administration is suspended or non-existent, and the administrative duties of most or all of the worlds within are assumed by the military. The transition between military and civil administration in the Imperium is smooth, there being no major difference between the two besides all or most offices being filled by active servicemen rather than civil bureaucrats.
The Sidh Clans are fraternal organizations of military veterans, which essentially encompass the entirety of politically-eligible citizens, and a closest equivalent to political parties within Sidh politics. The Clans are based on shared experience rather than blood kinship. The definition of a Clan as per Statutes is "a fraternal organization of servicemen and veterans in control of sufficient resources to raise at least one legion of troops and one armada of warships." While legally the Clans themselves have no direct control over resources or territories, this definition being a relic from before the Age of War when Clans were actual administrative bodies, their members, however, do. Consequently, the Clans command indirect but very formidable political influence.
Originally the Clans were introduced as highly-autonomous administrative entities in emulation of the Skargh ways of administering their interstellar empire - having only started to forge their own star empire, Sidhae had no experience whatsoever in administering such a vast territory, so the Emperor elected to adopt an existing and apparently reasonably-functional system from his Skargh rivals. Much like the highly-autonomous Skargh noble houses, each Clan would be free to explore, colonize and conquer in the Emperor's name, and also to raise it's own fleets and armies - an aspect that later backfired rather badly during the Sidh Civil War.
After the ravages of the Age of War, the Empress enacted sweeping Statute reforms to ensure nothing like the civil war could happen again, greatly curbing Clan power, devising the current administrative system and relegating the Clans to a mostly-political role without direct administrative power. Contemporary Clans are essentially voting districts rather than the potent factions with actual military and economic power they used to be.
A requirement for Clan membership is full citizenship, meaning that all Clan members invariably have at least some military background, the minimum service term for earning full citizenship being 3 years. Upon joining a Clan, the citizen adopts the Clan name as part of his own name, and gains a powerful backing should he aspire for a political career. Clan members are also expected to help each other in more mundane matters as well. In essence, a Clan is a voting district, a fraternal organization and a political party in one.
Politics-wise, there are little ideological differences between the Clans - rather, their differences arise from regional priorities, each Clan obviously being interested in getting the government to prioritize the regions they predominate in.
There are eight Great Clans in the Imperium, and numerous lesser Clans:
- Clan Amendha - a Traitor Clan during the Sidh Civil war
- Clan Eskyap - a Traitor Clan
- Clan Yrolhai
- Clan Katara - a Traitor Clan
- Clan Ishamna
- Clan Vraak - a Traitor Clan
- Clan Ohthor
- Clan Invictus
The Traitor Clans that fought against the Empress during the Sidh Civil war suffered no lasting penalty for their treachery. Most would eventually defect to the Loyalist side after realizing their leaders had betrayed the Emperor and attempted to frame the Empress for his murder and attempt to shift blame on them. For this reason, the Empress would exercise a policy of forgiveness and reconciliation after the war in order to reunite all Sidhae against their human and Skargh adversaries, only ordering the execution or imprisonment of a few thousand known war criminals and extending a general amnesty to the rest of the rebels. In order to atone for the black stain of treachery on their name, the former Traitor clans would take various penances, one lasting to present day being incorporating a black teardrop in their Clan heraldry.
The Clans are led by Primarchs and divided into regional chapters headed by Praetors. New members typically join the Clan most prevalent on their homeworld, though law that limits Clan influence requires that other Clans be allowed to operate their recruiting stations along with the locally-dominant Clan, one of the many measures to ensure that no single Clan ever comes to dominate the local politics and positions of authority.
Traditional opponents of the Clans are the Freelancers - Sidhae who refuse to join any Clan despite being eligible, and more broadly, all Sidhae who choose to live the life of nomadic adventurers and mercenaries rather than the traditional strictly-regulated sedentiary lifestyle of most. Freelancers regard Clans as stiff and dour formalists with an extremely-undue amount of political influence, while Clan members typically see Freelancers as dangerously liberal rebels and misfits.
Imperial authorities go to considerable lengths to ensure the ideological uniformity and conformity throughout Sidh society. Rejecting any ideas not agreed upon by general consensus for the sake of unity is a hallmark of Sidh political thought. Sidh politics are consequently very resistant to change, an Imperial Decree being nearly the only way to quickly effect significant reforms.
This ideological uniformity isn't attained so much through active suppression of political dissent and heterodoxy as through the conservative Sidh mentality itself. The typical Sidh is a natural conformist - ideas not endorsed by the majority of his peers simply hold no appeal or interest to him whatsoever.
Sidh politics are therefore characterized by a near-complete absence of ideological diversity, nominal political factions differing by the degree of adherence to the state ideology rather than genuine ideological difference. The two nominal factions in Imperium's politics are hardliners and liberals, with most of the eligible population lying somewhere in between the two.
The liberal end of the Sidh political spectrum is represented mainly by the Freelancers, the scientific community and those involved in commerce. Mind that "liberalism" is a very relative term in Sidh society - even the most open-minded, tolerant and individualist Sidh who hasn't yet crossed into the forbidden realm of political heresy would be described as very conservative by human standards. Hardliners on the other hand represent extreme orthodoxy and adherence to the tenets of the state ideology to the letter, and are championed mainly by the military.
Those Sidhae who endorse views too deviant from the accepted mainstream run the risk of being declared heretics and extremists, and suffer persecution by the authorities in consequence. While simply expressing unorthodox opinions isn't in itself a crime, it is still likely to result in the subject being placed on potential extremist watchlist by the authorities and may backfire when the person in question seeks employment in a politically-sensitive job or is accused of a crime, even an entirely unrelated one.
Law & Order
As a general rule, Sidh legal system prefers fewer, but harsher laws over the complex and intricate legal systems used by most contemporary human societies. Sidhae believe that legal cases should be judged according to the spirit of a particular law rather than by the letter, so that semantics and legal technicalities cannot be exploited by wrongdoers to evade justice.
Much of Sidh legal system is based on informal tradition rather than officially codified law. The historical reason to this is the makeup of the first Sidhae - most were soldiers, scientists and engineers, professions useful for starting up a new settlement on an alien world. Consequently hardly anyone possessed any education in law, so the legal system essentially had to be built from the ground up. Consequently, the new legal codes were written in a simple manner understandable to everyone, being more of guidelines than strictly and inflexibly codified regulations.
The supreme legal body in Imperial law is the Statutes, the vague equivalent of a constitution. The Statutes specify the duties and rights of the citizens and the state and set the basic legal framework for all Imperial laws.
The Imperial laws are all laws effective Imperium-wide. Individual sectors, sub-sectors and planets may also adopt local by-laws and ordinances that suit their circumstances as long as these do not contradict the Statutes or the Imperial laws. Most everyday legal cases will in fact be judged primarily by these local laws rather than Imperial laws.
The judicial system falls under the Chamber of Justice. Judges and magistrates, called Justicars, are appointed by the High Justicar, the most senior COJ official in the sector. To avoid conflict of interests or potential corruption, Justicars on any given planet are as a rule off-worlders and constantly rotated, ensuring their impartiality.
Law in the Imperium is enforced on a local and Imperial level. Urban Security, or UrbSec (U-Sec in some sources), is the local level of law enforcement, the equivalent to a regular police force.
Urban Security forces are typically organized at a city level, having jurisdiction within their city-district (which can often be as large as an Old Terran nation-state). Although all Urban Security forces are organized along standardized guidelines and regulations and maintain a close level of cooperation, there is no single Imperium-wide organization of Urban Security.
UrbSec is not a conventional police force, but rather a paramilitary gendarmerie. Along with enforcing the law, Urban Security's duties involve defending their home city in case of an invasion until the Army can muster a proper response. Because of this, the level of of UrbSec equipment rivals that of the military, complete with their own armor, artillery and attack aircraft as well as various gear specialized for urban combat.
UrbSec enforcers have a reputation of being very hard and uncompromising towards lawbreakers, and for a good reason - only the boldest and most audacious offenders dare to commit crimes when a patrol of hulking half-ton power-armored brutes with baseball-bat-sized stun sticks and autocannon-caliber sidearms is rarely more than a minute or two away. Having no concept of detainee rights, most Sidhae recognize that fleeing, resisting or even simply showing disrespect to Urban Security troops is a very bad idea bound to result in a severe beating at the very least. However, for their considerable authority Urban Security staff is also held to higher standards of conduct - an offense that would yield merely a fine to an ordinary citizen can result in a job loss for a security officer.
Domestic Security or DomSec (D-Sec in some sources) is the law enforcement organization with an Imperium-wide mandate, vaguely equivalent to the FBI of Old Terra's United States, although the political suppression and prison camp operation aspects of their typical tasks puts them more in the same league with Stalinist NKVD.
The widely-feared DomSec is rarely seen in public everyday. One of their main duties is the operation and maintenance of the omnipresent mass surveillance networks. Domestic Security keeps tabs on every citizen, accumulating detailed dossiers on every Sidh alive. This is done not just to spot active and potential troublemakers and proactively neutralize them, but also to look for prospective candidates for sensitive government jobs requiring very specific combinations of personality traits and skillsets.
While Domestic Security also fights corruption and organized crime and carries out counter-intelligence activities, they are still primarily associated with suppression of political dissent and operating the Imperium's notorious labour camps. A Sidh who has had the gall to turn his back on the Word, embrace foul alien ideas and doctrines and start to promote these poisonous lies among his fellow Sidhae can fully expect to have his door kicked down at night by a decury of armed DomSec troops in masks and dragged off, never to be heard of again. While law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear, they still do well to remember that they never truly leave the sight of the ever-watchful eye of DomSec.
The Imperium is rather notorious for it's harsh treatment of lawbreakers. Having no prison system in the regular sense, the Imperium's convicts are instead locked away in a network of forced labour camps.
Imperial authorities will generally refrain from arresting suspected criminals, instead building their case and accumulating enough evidence for an immediate and damning conviction, even if it means allowing a known criminal roam free. When arrest is finally authorized however, there is no escape save in death, no technicality on which to weasel one's way out, no trial save for a brief hearing presenting the suspect with his charges and evidence against him, and allowing him to speak in his own defense, that too being mostly a formality. As soon as the verdict is passed, the subject is from there on considered to have forfeited any and all legal rights until the end of his sentence, and is transfered to a temporary detention facility, the closest thing to an actual prison in the Imperium, where he must await transportation to his destined penal colony.
Labour camps are typically located in desolate and harsh places, the environment alone being a sufficient deterrent to any attempts at escape. Prisoners are employed in hard, dirty and dangerous work such as mining, scrapbreaking or waste disposal, deliberately kept malnourished and constantly terrorized by sadistic guards, who are deliberately encouraged to treat inmates with cruelty. Most however need no such encouragement - being appointed to guard a labour camp is in itself a punishment meted out for disciplinary infractions in Domestic Security, a position dreaded and loathed by DomSec troops who consequently take out their anger and frustration on the prisoners.
Violence among inmates is common as well, guards often deliberately encouraging and riling up rivalries to keep the inmates divided and at each others' throats, sometimes selecting a few inmate trustees to enforce order on their behalf in exchange of better rations and accomodations. Rape is also widespread, also used by the guards as a tool of humiliating and terrorizing inmates. A troublesome prisoner, and also the occasional pretentious trustee with delusions of indispensibility, can rather easily find himself alone in a cell with ten or more of his sworn enemies who have previously been instructed to do as they please with their new plaything as long as the subject remains alive. Women, especially human women, who are rarely segregated from male inmates, suffer the most.
In such violent conditions, order is maintained by draconian methods, floggings, torture and summary executions being a daily occurrence in most camps over the smallest of infractions. Depending on the security regime of the camp or the particular area of one, punishable offenses may vary considerably. In low security areas, the regular degree of control is not much different from seen in a military boot camp. In maximum security, inmates can be subjected to a violent beating or torture for as little as speaking to themselves, any form of communication besides acknowledging orders and communicating information relevant to them being strictly forbidden. Not bound by restrictions regarding the treatment of free citizens, DomSec troops may often single out some inmates for abuse simply for the entertainment value of it.
Survival rates are consequently low, only about 30% surviving their first incarceration full-term, and only 5% making it out a second time. A third offense carries an automatic death or life imprisonment sentence (the latter often proclaimed just formally and followed by immediate execution away from the public eye). Each upgraded sentence automatically defaults one to a higher security class and a correspondingly more miserable life.
A Sidh can end up in the camps for any number of offenses ranging from murder to failure to return library books, crimes more severe than a fine or a simple flogging could remedy, but at the same time not warranting immediate execution or exile. Humans in turn can end in the camps for truly any reason, ranging from actual crimes to the nearest camp simply needing extra hands to meet it's production quotas after a particularly-vicious crackdown on a riot.
That being said, most Sidhae including former inmates regard the camps somewhat positively, because for all their brutality, doing time in one is considered a chance to demonstrate one's Sidhness - toughness and willpower, the qualities necessary to survive - and thus prove one's worthiness to return to normal society. Once a Sidh has completed his term, he is considered fully rehabilitated and suffers no further penalty or social stigma (with the exception of political offenders), enjoying all the civil rights he held before imprisonment unless the conditions of his sentence or terms of release have specified otherwise.
The Imperium utilizes a hybrid economic system, central planning coexisting with massive state-owned industrial combines operating under free market principles and small-scale private enterprise.
Unlike the inefficient central economic planning of historical Socialist states, which attempted to micromanage national economy, created overproduction of some goods, deficit of others and incentivised production report fraud, Sidh economic planning is more flexible. Rather than micromanaging the economy, state economic planners instead set broader long-term economic goals, for example, doubling petrochemical production in a particular sector within a particular time limit. How these goals are accomplished remains largely at the discretion of the respective industries. True centralized planning with set production quotas is largely limited to the military industries, where the demand for most goods is a known and fairly fixed number, plans being fairly easy to adjust to any changes.
Most of civil industries, however, are managed by industrial combines, massive state-owned corporations specializing in particular range of industries. Combines adjust their production output according to demand, compete with each other, and generally operate under market economy, the chief difference being that all of them are owned by the state.
Private enterprise is allowed in the form of individual businesses and cooperatives, with numerous Sidhae pooling their resources to purchase the necessary equipment beyond their individual means, each worker therefore also owning a share of the company capital and earning his due fraction of the common profit rather than a fixed salary. Cooperatives are especially popular in agriculture. Exceptionally successful cooperatives eventually grow large and wealthy enough to be recognized as combines, the state assuming formal control of the company, but business otherwise continuing as usual. Lesser cooperatives are usually taken over by larger combines or directly by the state upon reaching a certain size, it's employees continuing to work there on much the same terms as before.
Sidhae make a point of preventing any form of exploitative economic relations in their economic model. Capitalism and laissez-faire market economy are anathematic to Sidh ideology since they allow a few individuals to concentrate capital and resources in their hands at the expense of everyone else. Ideology-wise, it is un-Sidh to sell one's labour to anyone other than the state, such relation being by definition exploitative.
Imperium's finance branch of economy is managed centrally via Imperial State Bank. ISB holds a monopoly on finance, private individuals being strictly forbidden from banking. This is again to ensure that no private individual can gain excessive political influence and power by amassing vast fortunes or exert control over financial transactions. ISB also operates the Imperium's stock market.
Charging interest for loans is strictly forbidden in the Imperium, again for the reason of preventing exploitation and accumulation of excessive wealth. Granting a loan is instead formulated as investment that entitles the lender to a proportionate share in the enterprise being sponsored. Since only the Imperial State Bank has legal authority to issue loans, it is also the reason why nearly all businesses are owned by the state - it simply owns a majority share in practically every private business by means of this law.
Exchange of goods throughout the Imperium is managed by trade guilds, the commerce sector equivalent to industrial combines, and by private individuals.
Most of the Imperium's commerce is naturally controlled by the guilds that have the means to manage large-scale goods exchange. Lesser exchanges are conducted by private merchants.
Freelancers are instrumental in trade with their often-nomadic lifestyle, various privateer crews and mercenary outfits often being small-time merchants at least as much as freebooting soldiers. Freelancers are especially needed to carry out the formally non-existent foreign trade. Due to a near-permanent state of war with most of it's neighbors, the Imperium has consequently resorted to creating a grey market of foreign goods, bypassing the mutual formal embargoes. Freelance smugglers and legit merchants, being the only Sidhae more or less tolerated in foreign space, consequently operate this important part of economy
The Imperium is often described as "an army with a state", and true enough, few societies are anywhere near as militarized as Sidh. "Soldier" and "citizen" are essentially synonymous, citizenship and it's accompanying political rights or the lack of them in themselves beign defined by one's military service record.
Many tens of billions strong, the Imperial military is easily one of the largest in the galaxy, at least in percentage of the total population. Although the Imperium's enemies typically outnumber Sidh forces by a considerable margin, this is usually made up for with troop quality.
Military influence is omnipresent in every aspect of Sidh society, from politics to culture. Considered the ultimate manifestation of civil service, service the military is regarded as both extremely prestigious and a sacred duty of every proper patriotic citizen. In truth, any different attitude couldn't be expected from a people whose ancestors were for most part soldiers.
The Imperial military consists of four branches of service - Army, Navy, Imperial Guard and Auxilia.
Often referred to poetically as the "Shield of the Emperor", the Auxilia is a paramilitary reserve and civil defense force that encompasses literally every citizen of the Imperium. Every citizen is required by law to register with the Auxilia and attend periodic exercises every month. This ensures that literally every single Sidh knows at least the basics of personal combat, tactics, first aid and civil defense, those opting for a professional military career already having the basic skills expected of a soldier, recruits in the regular army being able to move immediately to more advanced training. That is, however, not the true purpose of Auxilia, combat training usually not going beyond instruction in basics of personal combat, tactics, military drill and laws. The primary function of the Auxilia is civil defense, most training focusing exactly on that. In times of war, the Auxilia's function besides as a reserve and emergency backup is primarily protection and restoration of civil assets.
Because of the regular training in civil defense drills and other such activities, enemies of the Imperium have often noted how quickly and efficiently the common Auxilia-trained Sidh citizenry tend to respond to emergencies. Commanders who have expected complete panic, chaos and anarchy to reign on the ground after week-long orbital bombardments have been frustrated to find civilians on the ground conducting organized evacuations, casualty recovery and damage control efforts in spontaneously-organized groups with an efficiency rivalling that of professional emergency services. These same civilians would also mount a fanatical armed resistence alongside the regular military when their location would come under attack.
Being a Sidh essentially entails constant and incessant preparation and readiness for war, emergency or other danger, this being reflected in Sidh education, training and lifestyle. Auxilia is one of the instruments to maintain that readiness. Citizens required to attend their compulsory auxilia training, which is typically a month every year spread out evenly across the year, are therefore given days off by their employer (i.e. the state) to meet their obligations.
Auxilia officers and instructors are usually professional soldiers retired from active service and seeking a familiar job in a more civilian setting. This cadre of professionals serves as the commanding core of Auxilia units, the rank and file being composed of ordinary citizens.
Auxilia units are organized by residence. In hive cities, each hab block is also it's own Auxilia unit, different sections and floors making up sub-units. Factories and businesses will likewise also be their own Auxilia units staffed by the present employees. In rural regions, the residents of towns and other settlements will form a unit out of their community.
Auxilia command structure is very flexible, unlike the more rigid Army and Navy hierarchies. A citizen may freely join the nearest Auxilia force once emergency is declared, not necessarily having to report to the unit of his actual place of residence. Much of Auxilia training revolves around teaching cooperation with unfamiliar people in an unfamiliar setting, so that any citizen may immediately join the defense and rescue efforts wherever he might find himself at the time. These efforts are coordinated by the regular cadre, who are required to be present in their areas of responsibility and organize present citizens to their defense when necessary. This way, citizens can spontaneously form organized defense and emergency relief forces from immediately available personnel without sacrificing organization and efficiency.
Although Auxilia is not expected to engage in combat unless attacked, they are more than capable of defending themselves and even launching counter-attacks until the military can muster a proper response. There are civil defense armories in every hab block, every town, where mobilized Auxiliamen can receive their gear. Those with professional military training are eligible for powered armor suits and military-issue weaponry, while ordinary civilians get a gun and a simple helmet and flak jacket. Those with military experience are trained and expected to assume roles of leadership over those without, so that any group of citizens can organize into a functional Auxilia unit simply by determining who is the most qualified military or ex-military man present.
Sometimes aptly called "Sword of the Emperor", the Imperial Army stands tens of billions strong and forms the mainstay of Imperium's regular armed forces.
The basic component of the Imperial Army is the legion. Legions do not approximate to human divisions, being much larger field army-sized forces. With an attached naval armada, every legion is effectively an army unto itself, a fully autonomous fighting force capable of carrying out any form of military operations. Legions typically range between 1 and 4 million troops in strength, naval and non-combat personnel included, and are usually dispersed in garrisons across multiple worlds and star systems - usually the worlds assigned to supply them. It is not often that an entire legion is mobilized and thrown into combat, only around 1/3 of the personnel spending time in active combat zones at any given time, the remainder staying well behind the frontlines for rest, recovery and training, maintaining constant rotation.
While the might of a single legion is usually sufficient to capture and hold an average civilized world, larger operations against heavily populated and fortified planets require the collaboration of multiple legions. Where each individual legion is commanded by a strategos, such combined operations require the appointment of an archistrategos, the most senior and experienced strategos from those involved. Archistrategoi are in charge of entire theaters of operation and military districts called themes, spanning entire sectors.
The naval arms of the legions are formally part of the Imperial Navy and hence not technically subject to Army authority. However, in practice the strategos of the legion retains primacy over all assets at his disposal, his belonging to a different service branch not being much of a hindrance, since the ranking officers of the Army are in fact required to serve a period of time in the Navy, and vice versa, in order to be eligible for promotion to the highest ranks. The majority of the Navy, however, isn't attached to any Army legion and is free to pursue operations independently of the Army. Attaching part of the Navy to the legions was done so that ground forces would at no time be deprived of support and means to bring in reinforcements or evacuate even if the rest of the Navy was otherwise indisposed.
Although every legion is fully capable of carrying out any form of military operations, individual legions usually tend to specialize in a particular form of warfare.
The Army is nominally divided in "regular" and "elite" legions, the latter being those legions which have accumulated a particularly impressive and distinguished service record, earning the right to paint their parade armor black rather than the regular dark-grey. The elite legions are typically named after letters of the Greek alphabet, although some retain their regular designations. This tradition stems from the days of the early Imperium, when the Army only numbered a handful of legions strong, being designated by the Greek alphabet letters for convenience. As the Imperium grew, so did it's Army, newer legions being designated by numbers and their homeworld names, the older "alphabetic" legions thus gaining a status of elevated prestige. In the times since, however, numerous "regular" legions have attained elite status as well.
Besides the distinct armor colour scheme, elite legions also enjoy several more practical privileges, such as being assigned forge worlds for their exclusive use and receiving a mighty superdreadnought for use as command ship. Unlike most regular legions, where the majority of servicemen are regular citizens enlisting to serve for a period of time to earn their citizenship and various other social bonuses that come with military service, the elite legions are staffed mainly by hardened career soldiers for whom combat service is a way of life. Most of these men have already served considerable time in the less-prestigious regular legions, having decided to go for a lifelong military career and requested to be transferred to one of the elite legions in order to see more action. Since the elite legions are constantly embroiled in wars across the galaxy and the attrition rates are high, an ambitious serviceman joining their ranks can expect a much faster rise through the ranks than elsewhere, in turn guaranteeing lucrative civilian career prospects after retirement - assuming, of course, that he survives long enough to retire.
A lot of Imperial Army terminology is borrowed from historical Roman and Byzantine terms, to emphasize the connection with old Terran legacy. The Navy utilizes more conventional terminology also found in human navies, favouring long-standing naval tradition.
Where the Army might be the Emperor's Sword, the Navy is most definitely His Hammer. Many billions strong, the Navy dominates the space as the Army dominates planetside.
Imperial Navy's main building block is a battlefleet, composed of the combined naval assets stationed within any given sector/theme and usually bearing it's name. Battlefleets typically tend to be 400 - 1200 ships strong, dozens of stealthers, frigates, destroyers and support ships centering around a core of 20-100 capital ships. A battlefleet assigned to the support of an Army legion is called an armada, and differs from a regular battlefleet by having a disproportionate amount of various transport ships in it's support train as well as many of it's combat vessels specialized in providing ground support.
As a rule, battlefleets spend most of the time spread out over vast stretches of space spanning their sector of operation, typically no more than a handful of ships being present in any system at any given time. It is only in times of dire emergency that an entire battlefleet, let alone several, are mobilized and deployed as a single entity. The most commonly seen form of deployment is a naval battlegroup consisting of a single heavy cruiser or battlecruiser (or more rarely a battleship), 2-4 light cruisers and their respective escorts and scouts. Although seemingly not much, it has to be considered that even such a relatively small battlegroup still has enough firepower to reduce entire continents to plate glass.
Imperial Navy doctrine emphasizes self-sufficiency, Sidh ships consequently being designed as resilient all-around generalists capable of extended deep-space operations without resupply. While emphasizing direct fire, most designs also carry a sizable contingent of fighters and bombers, thus technically making most Sidh battleships "battle-carriers". The principal method of naval combat practiced by the Imperium is to soften the enemy with long-range direct and indirect fire while closing in to broadside range under fighter and drone screens and finishing the opponent off with a devastating broadside barrage. In these close-combat episodes, boarding actions are not unheard of, and even ramming is not entirely off the book either, hence the characteristic sloped reinforced prows of Sidh warships. Since ramming is likely to result in damage and casualties aboard one's own ship, it is discouraged in official instructions, the reinforced prows serving mainly to protect from accidental collisions that are not uncommon in tightly-packed space combat. Nonetheless, brave and reckless commanders will not hesitate to use their ship as a battering ram if opportunity presents itself, the devastation such attacks wreak on enemy vessels being well worth the risks. In the recent decades, however, the naval design policies have began to shift towards the separation of direct fire and carrier roles, several new classes of ships designed as dedicated carriers entering service currently.
Enemies have often derided the Imperial Navy as the "most ludicrously-overpaid bunch of Gothic fanboys with size issues". Indeed, the ubiquitous Gothic designs prevalent throughout the Sidh culture are also reflected in naval design, especially the larger warships resembling gilded city-sized cathedrals in space. Such displays serve to demonstrate the might of the Imperium, making a statement that they can afford to spend the considerable extra sums to decorate their warships in such manner. Sidh naval engineers, however, have managed to skillfuly combine aesthetics with practicality, virtually every seemingly unnecessary ornament and design element in fact serving a purpose. The numberless Gothic spires that line Sidh capital ship hulls, for example, house shield generators and anti-projectile defenses, the arches and ornaments carved in armor disrupt it's linearity, making it more difficult for the enemy fire to achieve optimal penetration angle, the gilding itself is actually a cleverly-designed reflective-ablative coating protecting against energy weapons, and so on.
With the recent introduction of interdimensional travel, the Navy ships are being actively retrofitted with ID drives. It is estimated that the entire process will take decades to complete, but thus far the Imperium can already muster several battlefleets of ID-drive-equipped ships.
The fourth branch of the Imperial armed forces, the Imperial Guard serves as the Empress's personal army and protection detail. Historically raised as the Emperor's personal enforcers and safeguards against the over-independence of the Clans, the Guard consists of the most elite and fanatically-loyal soldiers of the Imperium, their commitment being beyond any doubt.
The Guard has it's own naval arm and thus recruits suitable candidates from both the Army and the Navy. The Imperial Guard numbers 13 legions strong, the monarch traditionally commanding the 13th Guard Legion personally. Outfitted with the best existing equipment and augmented to truly superhuman levels, even a small detachment of Guardsmen will often turn the tide of battle decisively.
Unlike typical elite forces elsewhere, the Imperial Guard does not have a particularly tough and brutal training program, or indeed any training program at all beyond ordinary skill maintenance courses and familiarization training with new augmentations and equipment. That is because every man and woman recruited into the Guard has already undergone plenty of the most brutal and realistic training available - real combat. Few Guardsmen are younger than a century, most having spent practically their entire lives on the battlefield, surviving against impossible odds. What makes the Imperial Guard so dangerous is therefore not their technology or augmentation, but experience - an organization where even a rank-and-file soldier has tens of campaigns in the galaxy's most unforgiving hotspots under his belt certainly isn't something to be taken lightly.
Membership in the Guard is by invitation only, and is considered such a high honour that even ranking officers will readily give up their lifelong career for a chance to become a common soldier, but one of the legendary Imperial Guard. Prim-and-proper attitude and perfect disciplinary record is not required nor expected of a prospective Guardsman - what matters is his experience and devotion to the Sidh cause.
The Guard is commanded by the Twelve, the closest and most devoted associates of the Emperor, who also serve as the monarch's personal advisors and enforcers. To become one of the Twelve is the highest possible career achievement for a Sidh short of becoming an Emperor - a thought that even most ambitious Sidhae would regard as blasphemous short of facing actual attainment of the office. Presently, only four out of the original Twelve survive.
The monarch is by tradition personally in command of the 13th Guard legion, a reference to Gaius Julius Caesar, the first of the Roman caesars, and his loyal men. This was not always the case, the Emperor originally commanding the 1st Guard.
The Guard legions are characterized by their black armor and rejection of any camouflage scheme, the elite Army legions only donning black for ceremony and usually using more practical camouflage patterns in everyday service. The Guard's heraldry is strongly reminiscent of the Waffen-SS, consisting of a black shield with an emblem
Some legions have their own unique traditions. The 1st Guard Legion, for example, has a long-standing tradition of members taking an oath of silence as penance for their failure to protect the Emperor on his assassination day. Members of the legion hence communicate with each other in technolingua when necessary, and will communicate to outsiders in regular Sidh when absolutely necessary. 1st Guard has also eschewed their original heraldry as part of their penance, replacing their original emblem with a plain black shield. A number of other legions practice their own odd customs as well.